I was hoping to get my new Flightaware 26" aerial mounted on a pole on my roof this weekend but none of the companies I e-mailed were able to come out this weekend.
I used to have a small stick aerial that plugged into the blue Flightaware Pro Stick Plus, this gave me mediocre results of some 600 aircraft a day and around 40K positions here in Bristol (Site 30123). As I live between the UK and the USA I also have a NYC site (30998) which performs significantly better with the same configuration in a much more built up area in terms of buildings. It would on a daily basis report some 170K positions and around 2400 aircraft. I’ve been very surprised at the performance of this site considering the high level of building clutter near the aerial. I recently (5 April 2019) upgraded the aerial in NYC to the Flightaware 26" aerial but so far the results do not seem that different to when using the small stick aerial. This site also has the Flightaware 1090Mhz filter, I’ve not really experimented with that other than to install it. I’ve not tried it without the filter.
At my Bristol site, I decided to experiment with the new Flightaware 26" aerial. Replacing the stick aerial with this gave immediate results even with the huge 5M cable which was the smallest size I could readily get off the shelf. With such a huge amount of cable I wondered what it would be like to move the aerial around upstairs. First I positioned it in another window, which made the performance worse. Then I tried propping it up against an outside wall of the house that faced West. Pretty much instantly the receiver went from 90 messages a second to over 400 a second.
The next day I decided to get a little more adventurous and I went to Wickes and purchased a step ladder to see what was in my loft and whether I could position and aerial up there. I found a wooden beam nearest to the outside wall and cable tied the 26" Flightaware aerial to that as high up as I could get it. The number of messages per second went from 400 to around 600 and I could also see planes as far north as Sheffield and Manchester, occasionally planes as far south as northern France. The first full day in this configuration bagged me 1589 aircraft reported and 169K positions which I am quite pleased with.
I have ordered a N Male to SMA Male adapter i.e. no cable at all and that will arrive tomorrow. I plan to plug the Flightaware Pro Stick Plus directly into the aerial and then use a USB extender to plug the receiver into the Raspberry PI. That way I don’t need to cable tie the rPI to the same wooden beam. I hope this will significantly reduce the loss in the 5M cable and improve results even further. I’d like to get to at least 2K aircraft reported from my Bristol site.